Coronavirus: Advice and guidance for Cycling UK member and affiliate groups

Keep up-to-date with the latest guidance for riding during lockdown. Photo: Wayne Fox
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Coronavirus: Advice and guidance for Cycling UK member and affiliate groups

Cycling UK is working towards ensuring some form of riding can continue within some nations. This is constantly evolving, so please keep an eye on local and national news

*** This is a live document and was last updated Tuesday 1 December to reflect the new tier system in England from 2 December.

Note that it is not possible to cover every local variation across the UK here, and you should always follow local restrictions where these are imposed. ***

Cycling UK’s advice below is aimed at member and affiliated groups. For advice on safe and responsible riding outside of organised groups see our coronavirus Q&A page.

Localised lockdowns and restrictions

If your area is under a full local lockdown, we advise that all group activities cease until restrictions are lifted. However, a number of areas are currently experiencing additional restrictions in response to local outbreaks which you can view here.

Unless it specifically states otherwise on the gov.uk website and/or your local relevant council website, Cycling UK is supporting local group rides to continue but you must still follow relevant rules on group size and social distancing.

Regarding the recent Covid alert levels within England please see the below infographic to help you decide whether you should undertake your cycling activity or not. 


England

This page will be updated once the new regulations have been published, and debated in parliament on 16 December.

The government’s intention is to establish a tier system across England. You can find out on the government website which areas are in Tier 1 (medium alert), Tier 2 (high), and Tier 3 (very high).

Different rules apply in each tier, however in all three tiers the guidance states that you must not socialise in a group of more than six people outside – the ‘rule of six’. This would allow group rides of up to six people in all three tiers.

Travel restrictions between tiers are not so clear cut. The general rule is that people should not travel into or leave a Tier 3 area, however there are exemptions for necessary trips such as work, education or caring responsibilities, and you can therefore cycle in and out of Tier 3 areas for such trips. The ‘necessary trip’ exemption does not apply to rides that are purely for leisure, sport or physical activity, however the guidance states that you can travel through a Tier 3 area as part of a longer journey. This arguably does permit a leisure cycle ride which crosses into or from a Tier 3 area, however the intention of the planned rules and guidance is clearly to restrict journeys across Tier 3 boundaries to necessary journeys only. We know that many of you will often begin your ride in one area and cross into others as part of your normal routes.  

Therefore:

For groups from ‘Medium’ or ‘High’ areas, you are permitted to ride into a ‘Very high’ area as part of your route, however you should not stop for a break while in that area. 

For groups from ‘Very high’ areas, you are permitted to ride into ‘Medium’, ‘High’ or other ‘Very high’ areas as part of your route, however you should only stop for a break while within your own area. 

There is no restriction on the distance you can cycle for exercise, or the frequency of rides.

Please see the coronavirus Q&A page for full details on informal and solo riding. 

Exemption for organised sports: please see below

There's still an exemption for organised sports and activities allowing activities involving more than six people. This involves individual sports bodies submitting an action plan for approval by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with all recreational clubs relying upon that exemption being legally required to develop a written coronavirus plan and risk assessment prior to activity. Given the nature of the requirements on clubs and participants, and that any failure to comply by either is, from 14 September, a criminal offence rather than non-compliance with guidance as it was previously, Cycling UK can no longer advise groups that they can rely on the organised activity exemption. Accordingly, our advice in England is that group rides in England should be restricted to a maximum of six participants. However, multiple groups of six are permissible, as long as these groups do not come into contact with one another.

Please get in contact if you require the sports exemption and we can review it on a case by case basis. 

Scotland

The guidance for cycling activity was revised by sportscotland and Scottish Cycling on 1 December. The key points of the Scottish Cycling guidance are:

Social/recreational cycling – informal rides not as part of an organised group activity

  • In Level 0: 15 people from five households can meet to cycle, and are permitted to cycle through Levels 0,1 and 2 but only five miles into a Level 3 or 4 area
  • In Levels 1 and 2: six people from two households can meet to cycle, and are permitted to cycle through Levels 0. 1 and 2 but only five miles into a Level 3 or 4 area
  • In Levels 3 and 4: six people from two households can meet to cycle, but rides should remain within Local Authority boundaries, although you may cycle up to 5 miles into a Level 3 or 4 area during your ride

Formal, organised group activity – where the group has a Covid-19 Coordinator and protocols in place

  • Adult (18 +) group rides for up to 30 individuals from any household are permitted in Levels 0 to 2; physical distancing is suspended during the activity, but must be adhered to during and after the activity
  • Adult (18 +) group rides of up to seven people from unlimited households are permitted in Levels 3 and 4, but with physical distancing required before, during and after the activity.
  • Rides can go across local authority boundaries if you are in Levels 0, 1 and 2, but not in Level 3 and 4
  • Adults in Level 3 and 4 are not allowed to travel outwith their local authority area to take part in a club ride
  • All organised cycling groups must adhere to the Covid protocols; sportscotland have provided guidance for Covid officers

Cycling UK guidance remains that group size should not exceed 15 people

For social and informal cycling, the infographic below explains the ratios that are permitted:


Wales

New regulations came into force Monday 9 November, which expire on 21 February 2021.

Regulation 6 prohibits outdoor gatherings of more than four people, excluding children under 11 and carers of anyone participating in that gathering. This means that groups of up to four people are legally able to cycle together, for any purpose, however there is also a sports / organised activity exemption that can apply – see below.

New guidance however also asks people to be restrained in how many different people they see, making the point that it is better to see the same one or two people regularly than to see lots of different people occasionally. The context for that guidance is that there is no restriction on the number of times you can meet others in a gathering of four people, so you could technically go for several bike rides a day, each with a different group of people, though this would clearly be against the spirit of the guidance.

The guidance also points out that while the maximum number of people who can gather together is four, this is a maximum and not a target, and the smaller the number of people who gather, the lower the risk.

The guidance makes it clear that permission for four people who do not live together to gather together indoors and outdoors also applies in outdoor areas attached to shops, cafés, pubs and similar, so it is permitted on a group ride to stop in an outdoor area attached to a café or pub.

There is no restriction on the length of any ride or the time you can spend outdoors, whether alone or in a group of up to four.

As there are now no travel restrictions in place in Wales, you can effectively cycle where you like, however there is general guidance asking people to avoid travelling to and from areas with a higher incidence rate if they can, so rides from low risk areas to high risk areas are again not within the spirit of the guidance, but they are not prohibited.

Regulation 9 provides that you can only travel out of or into Wales in limited circumstances, which include for work purposes or education, so you can clearly cycle from Wales to England and back for those journeys. Those limited circumstances do not however include leisure or recreation, so a cycle ride from or into Wales purely for leisure, whether on your own or in a group, is not allowed.

Also there is a sports exemption / organised activity exemption in Wales which allows up to 30 participants in an organised group ride, however Cycling UK’s advice is that any group rides taking place in reliance on this exemption should not involve more than 15 riders.  All leaders need to take all reasonable measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Please see the Return to Activity plan in the attachments at the bottom of this article for full details.

Northern Ireland

New regulations restricting outdoor exercise in Northern Ireland came into force on 27 November, and remain until midnight on 10 December. These changes prohibit any group riding (including organised group rides), except where this involves members of a single household or social bubble.

However, there are certain restrictions and guidance that must be undertaken for these groups to be allowed in each nation. You can see attached at the bottom of this article two newly drafted guidance sheets:

  • Cycling UK –  Return to activity plan (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
  • Cycling UK –  Return to activity plan (Scotland)

Coronavirus and group cycling

Where group riding is allowed, cyclists should still observe good hygiene, and Cycling UK advises leaving plenty of space when passing others, and to avoid pulling in rapidly after overtaking another cyclist, causing them to end up in your slipstream.

Cycling UK's advice remains that it is advisable for people to cycle for their health, fitness and well-being. 

The guidance for avoiding contamination remains unchanged, keeping at least two metres away from anyone else where possible, regularly washing your hands and catching coughs and sneezes in tissues and disposing of them appropriately as soon as possible. For further advice, please refer to the NHS website. 

We will continue to evaluate the latest advice from government and update our guidance accordingly. As the threat level reduces, our guidance is likely to be along these lines but this will depend on factors such as local levels of infection, national guidance and so on.

Statement from Cycling UK 

As the national cycling charity, our aim is to support the UK’s population to cycle. This remains true during this period of coronavirus affecting the UK. 

Above all, the safety and welfare of Cycling UK’s staff, volunteers, participants at our rides and events, beneficiaries of our cycling programmes and the general public is always our main priority. 

We are closely monitoring the situation and taking advice from the government, the NHS and partners.  

Advice for Cycling UK groups and volunteers 

Following renewed advice from the government, Cycling UK is advising cyclists that they can take part in group cycling activity in accordance with their nations' guidance

On 1 June, the new guidance came into effect, making it clear that there is no limit on duration or frequency of exercise, or the distance you can travel to exercise in England.

As a result of this revised guidance, Cycling UK has taken the decision to allow group riding and activities, in accordance with government guidelines in their nations. 

To support the return to group cycling activities, we have created some informational posters, which are attached below:

  • Coronavirus guidance for returning to group activities
  • Coronavirus risk assessment checklist
  • Coronavirus guidance for Cycling UK volunteers, staff and participants

Insurance

Note that in light of the latest government advice on coronavirus, and guidance on social distancing designed to reduce the risk of spreading infection, group cover provided under the organiser’s liability insurance could potentially be invalid if a club or affiliated group decides to go against the advice issued by Cycling UK and arranges large-scale events and/or large group rides that exceed the numbers permitted under each nation's guidance.

For individual cyclists, the third-party liability insurance included within membership will protect a member of the public against the risk of a cycling related incident involving an insured member. 

The safety and wellbeing of Cycling UK’s staff, volunteers, riders, beneficiaries of our cycling programmes and the general public remains our number one priority. 

Cycling UK will continue to monitor the situation and will be taking advice from the government, the health sector and partners. 

Avoiding contamination

Guidance for avoiding contamination remains the same: 

  • Catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue and disposing of them appropriately as soon as possible
  • Washing hands with soap and water regularly for at least 20 seconds (or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser if you're unable to wash your hands with soap and water) 
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are unwell. 

You can find more information about social distancing on the government’s website

Symptoms 

Following recent guidance released from the government, ​we ask that all of our volunteers and members stay at home if you have the below symptoms and do not attend Cycling UK activities which may still be happening despite the above stated advice. 

For your information, you are advised to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of travel history or contact with confirmed cases, if you have any of these symptoms: 

  • a new continuous cough 
  • high temperature (of 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher)
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

Do not go to a surgery, pharmacy or hospital. 

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home. 

Fourteen-day isolation is required if you:

  • live in a household with anyone that has symptoms
  • have been contacted by the NHS because you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, or
  • have travelled from outside the UK and Ireland, unless from an exempt country. Note that Northern IrelandScotland, England and Wales have separate lists of exempt countries. 

Read the recommended government stay at home advice and NHS coronavirus advice.  

Further updates 

We’ll continue to monitor the situation carefully and will update groups and areas via the website and Velocheer, our volunteer newsletter. If any further action is needed, such as the cancellation of rides and events, we will contact groups and event organisers directly.  

If you have any questions please see our coronavirus FAQs page, or contact the Group Engagement Officer on 01483 238338 or via groups@cyclinguk.org

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Cycling UK continues to support the UK to cycle
This remains true during this difficult period with the ongoing threat of coronavirus Covid-19